Thursday, August 02, 2007

Things Get Tougher for Ted Stevens

Roll Call ($) reports that an employee of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens did his personal bookkeeping on the federal dime:

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has used a Senate employee as his personal bookkeeper but does not appear to have paid her for those services out of his own funds, even as the aide collected more than a quarter-million dollars in federal pay, according to Senate records and the aide’s financial disclosure forms...

According to an Associated Press report, [Barbara] Flanders — who did not respond to repeated requests for comment — is cooperating with federal law enforcement officials conducting a wide-ranging corruption probe of Stevens and other Alaska lawmakers and business leaders, including Stevens’ son, Ben, and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska).

The AP report said Flanders has testified before a grand jury regarding her work as Stevens’ personal bookkeeper, as part of the federal probe into his relationship with executives from the oil services firm VECO Corp.

It's unclear from the Roll Call account how it can be determined that her work was personal work for Stevens; the AP article (below) clearly implies that it's in her testimony. That said, it's not cut-and-dried that a law has been broken. It's not unusual for paid staff to do a small amount of personal work for Members (such as making a dinner reservation -- as the article points out). Further, if she was performing official duties commensurate with her salary, personal work during office hours might be overlooked.

Essentially, this must pass the 'smell test.' And those caveats notwithstanding, this doesn't smell very good.

This appears to be the AP story referenced:

Barbara Flanders, who serves as a financial clerk for Stevens on the Commerce Committee, testified in the last several weeks and provided documents regarding the senator's bills, according to an attorney in the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because grand jury matters are secret by law...

Flanders is a longtime aide who helps ensure that Stevens' bills are paid, the attorney said. She was questioned about the improvement project and how the bills were paid.

Reached by telephone yesterday, Flanders would not discuss her testimony or describe her duties involving Stevens' personal accounts.

"I work for the Commerce Committee," she said. "I don't have any comment on any other issues."

It doesn't look very good for Stevens.

Update: If you're reading about Ted Stevens then you must be interested in earmarks. Go check out Glenn's thoughts on where earmark reform stands now.

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